Anthem of the seas

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been called in by US Senator Bill Nelson to investigate the incident where Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Anthem of the Seas was caught in the midst of a storm at Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean had reportedly continued with the seven-day voyage to the Bahamas after departing from Jersey on February 6 for Port Canaveral even though federal forecasters from NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center had warned of a hurricane induced storm.

WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue was quoted by USA Today as stating that the 168,666t ship encountered rough winds surging at a speed of 100 miles per hour and created waves higher than 20 to 30ft.

The captain of the ship while negotiating the surges and the stormy weather advised the passengers to remain inside the cabins.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez was quoted by cruisecritic as saying: "In an abundance of caution, the Captain asked all guests to stay in their stateroom until the weather improved.

"At this time there have not been any serious injuries reported.

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"The ship has sustained some damage to the public areas and guest staterooms, which in no way affect the sea-worthiness of the ship."

The ship is due to return to Cape Liberty where the passengers will be disembarked and the cruise authority is reportedly planning to give a full refund to the passengers as well as a future cruise certificated worth 50% of the cruise fare paid.

"The ship has sustained some damage to the public areas and guest staterooms, which in no way affect the sea-worthiness of the ship."

However, the fiasco had invited criticism from authorities who questioned the cruise company’s decision to go ahead with the journey.

NTSB authority was quoted by marinelog as saying: "The incident occurred in international waters and involved a Bahamian-flagged vessel, and we are actively engaged with our US and international partners to determine what would be the best course of action, in accordance with established international protocols.

"In addition, we have received correspondence from Sen. Bill Nelson urging that the NTSB review this incident as part of its investigation into the El Faro accident.

"That investigation includes a weather group that is investigating TOTE Maritime’s decision-making processes regarding vessel operations in hurricanes and other heavy weather occurrences."

Image: NTSB will investigate Anthem of the Seas incident on the sea. Photo: courtesy of Dickelbers Cropped and contrast adjusted by Ahecht.